Friday, August 27, 2004

For Tigers, good isn't good enough

Georgetown preview

By Colleen Kane
Enquirer staff writer

M O R E   I N F O R M A T I O N
Georgetown schedule
Date Opponent Time
Sept. 2 Bethel (Tenn.) 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Ky Wesleyan 2:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 Cumberland University 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Union (Ky.) 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 2 Lambuth 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Belhaven 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 16 UVA-Wise 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 30 at Pikeville 1:30 p.m.
Nov. 6 Campbellsville 1:30 p.m.
Nov. 13 at Cumberland College 1:30 p.m.
For the first time in five years last season, Georgetown College failed to make the NAIA national championship game. The Tigers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by St. Francis and ended the season 9-3. Not bad, but not good enough.

"Most people would be thrilled to be 9-3, but it was a disappointment to our troops and coaches," coach Bill Cronin said. "We felt like we could've (done better) with a break here or there. ... We'll just have to reload and go at it again."

Fifteen starters come back this year to try for redemption - a return trip to the championship. And Cronin said he "likes the way this team is shaping up."

On the offensive side, sophomore quarterbacks Brandon Blackerby, Jeff Smith and Andy Ahrens, who have combined for fewer than 200 passing yards in their Georgetown careers, will fight to replace graduated Neil Warren (201 completions for 2,356 yards last year). Leading rusher Nick Ayers is also gone, but fullback Ryan Payne (772 total yards) and last year's leading receiver, Jerome Gearlds (33 catches, 568 yards), return to lead the offense.

The top three tacklers return on defense, including John Michael Sullivan (104 tackles, 10 for loss), last year's Mid-South Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a NAIA All-American. Jimmy Carty (49 tackles) joins Sullivan to lead the linebacking corps, and four-year starter Ian Ruth (68 tackles) returns to the defensive backfield.

The biggest question marks for the Tigers may be the offensive and defensive lines, where several young players will be counted on to step up.

"The young guys in the OL and DL don't have the experience you need to tell if they're ready for national competition," Cronin said. "They need to try to grow up."

The Tigers start with Bethel at home and face Lambuth, one of the three teams that beat them last year, at home Oct. 2.

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